Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Special Education

Major Professor

Stacy-Ann A. January, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jose M. Castillo, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kahlila G. Lawrence, Ph.D.


special eduaction, eligibility, identification, policy


The field of specific learning disability (SLD) in the United States has changed considerably since reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA; (§3007); State Education Agencies (SEAs) have been transitioning away from the severe discrepancy model of SLD identification and towards a Response to Intervention (RTI) model (Hauerwas et al, 2013). This study aimed to review SLD practices in the United States through the analysis of SEA documents and to evaluate the progress made since the reauthorization of IDEA. The aim of the current study was to provide a snapshot of 1) how SEA regulations defined SLD; 2) when SEA documents were last updated; 3) what SLD identification procedures were outlined in SEA regulations; and 4) which SEAs included RTI best practice elements (universal screening, progress monitoring, fidelity practices) in both regulation and guidance documents. The research methodology utilized in this study included a descriptive analysis to examine and understand individual SEAs’ regulations and guidelines regarding SLD identification and RTI. Results indicated that SLD and RTI regulations and guidelines have changed considerably since the last reviews (Hauerwas et al., 2013; Maki et al., 2015). The definitions of SLD provided in regulation documents varied between SEAs, but the majority adopted the federal definition with no changes. The most recent research of Hauerwas et al. (2013) served as a baseline for analyzing when SEA documents were last updated; three-quarters of collected regulation and guidance documents have either been updated or added since the Hauerwas et al. collection date of 2011. Analysis of SLD regulation documents indicated that approximately one quarter of SEAs required the sole use of RTI for SLD identification. Lastly, both regulation and guidance documents were analyzed for RTI best practices; language regarding progress monitoring was present in the vast majority of SEAs documents. Implications for policy, practice, and future research are discussed.